Inspections are getting a little trickier this time of year because you need to be fast as not to trigger robbing, but also careful not to over stress the delicate comb. Beeswax melts around 145-147F, but can get a bit putty like when it gets above 100F range. Bees do an amazing job of ventilating their hives to keep the brood around 95F either by generating heat or fanning to cool the hive. This time of year those combs are packed full of honey right up to the tolerance point that the combs can support and pulling them out can potentially cause them to fail under their own weight. Capped honeycomb turned sideways will essentially "melt" into your hands under the weight of the honey.
On the topic of robbing this is basically what it sounds like. Hives are ready for fall and have lots of food stored and are trying to scale back their numbers so they don't eat through it all before the spring flowers bloom. If the opportunity presents itself to steal honey from another hive a robbing situation will occur when two (or more) hives may attack and try to overwhelm another hive to steal their honey. This is often fatal to the hive either because the queen is killed or the hive is left without enough food to get through winter. A different type of robbing might also be triggered by Yellow Jackets that are not just interested in the honey but also in eating the bees themselves. It takes several bees to fight off a Yellow Jacket and once they get through the defenses they will head home to tell the rest of their hive. At the moment the Yellow Jackets are just snooping around and picking off the weak/dying bees outside the hives in the grass.
Hive checks (8/11/2012)
Queen Castle 1
Due to the heat and a newly drawn weak frame I did harvest a frame of this honey. It's very different from the frame harvested from the Sand hive in West Queen Anne a few weeks ago. It has notes of Blackberry, Sweet Chestnut and Mint.
They are building up and are showing signs they will be good hoarders. I found a queen cup with a newly laid egg in it. It was the only one so I removed it to see if they make more. I also added empty frames into the brood nest.
This hive has turned around and everything is looking good. There is a lot of nectar, but not much dried yet. They are looking like they are in good shape for winter. I saw a few girls dragging drones out as well, so it must be that time of year.
Same as last week. It looks like they might be improving, but hard to say just yet.
There are still a lot of flowers around the neighborhoods to keep the girls busy, but no major honey sources at the moment here. The Knotweed has started blooming, but I'm not aware of any within several miles that actually has been allowed to flower. Apparently like many of the other nectar flows here it is considered a noxious weed and on the destroy list. If there is any around I am sure the girls are dancing in the flowers right now.
Back to the bees.